Music/Lyrics: The Sherman Brothers, Robert J Sherman, Al Sherman
Director: Stewert Nicholls
Conductor: Colin Billing
Reviewer: Jackson Cooper
It’s like hearing your childhood stripped down to 4 people, a narrator, and a piano. If your childhood could also be a history lesson of one of the most memorable, tuneful musical duos since Rodgers and Hammerstein, A Spoonful of Sherman offers triple helpings of musical medicine that’s easy to go down.
A hit at St. James Studio Theatre in 2014, A Spoonful of Sherman is a well-devised musical tribute to the Sherman Brothers &their father Al Sherman, the former most well known for their music &lyrics for Disney films like Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, and The Jungle Book. Even now, you’re probably humming one (or multiple!) tunes from any of those three titles. That is how memorable the Sherman Brothers’ songbook is to us. The cabaret act features Robert J. Sherman (son of Robert B. Sherman) and a cast of 4 of the most eclectic performers giving a taste (or, hearty spoonful) of the great soundtrack of our youth.
In her songs like “Tell Him Anything” and “Come Along A Love”, Charlotte Wakefield gives wonderful heart and belt to lesser known tunes, giving them new breathe. Emma Williams gives equal passion in her solos, reminiscent of a young Angela Lansbury in ability &power even in her softer moments. The men give hilarious and engaging characterizations in their songs, more silly than the women’s. Song like “The Wonderful Thing About Tigers” and “The Ugly Bug Ball” are given to the men, appropriate for such multi-faceted actors like Greg Castiglioni and Stuart Matthew Price. Colin Billing’s musical direction and piano chops are top-notch, displaying his instincts that put him among the best cabaret accompanists.
The CD is a wonderful love letter to the Sherman family legacy that never seems pretentious or alienating of listeners. There is heart at the centre of this show and it is most prominent in the performers and narration. One suggestion is, the next time the show is produced, bump up the orchestrations. These songs sound stellar on a piano, but given a full orchestra (with underscoring), the result would be heavenly.